Notable for bringing easy STEM concepts to interesting, inventive life for very young readers.

PATCH OF SKY

“Looking up” takes on a whole new meaning.

Pia, a yellow-skinned, blue-haired girl, has a best friend—Patches, a pig from whom she’s inseparable. Apart from Patches, Pia’s favorite thing is the sky. Unfortunately, her father explains that the anatomy of pigs’ necks is such that pigs can’t look up. Pia is desolate because, she tells Patches, the sky isn’t only wonderful, it also reflects emotions, and she’s determined that her bestie should see it. She devises several ingenious stratagems to solve the dilemma, including rolling Patches onto his back and pushing him up a hill; sadly, each attempt ends in disappointment. However, Pia’s chance glimpse at a clear rain puddle gives her one final idea—and voila! By peering down into the puddle, Patches finally beholds the sky. This endearing, lighthearted tale rests on an easy science concept, though some kids might not get it, even as depicted; adult explanations may be needed. The tale makes a fine springboard for imaginative thinking and art activities focused on helping pigs look upward. The colorful, lively, expressive illustrations, set mostly in square or rectangular panels, are appealing; readers will also appreciate the text, often set in colored type and including onomatopoeic sound words used to very dynamic effect. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Notable for bringing easy STEM concepts to interesting, inventive life for very young readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35384-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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